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Morning Report: Apple Pay Covers 90% of US Credit Cards, iPhone 6 Tops Google Search

Apple Pay with Touch ID

Judging from Google’s top search trends for 2014, desktop and mobile users were eager to find out more about Apple’s iPhone 6, which topped the charts more than any other consumer electronics device. Our Tuesday Morning Report has more on that as well as how Apple Pay is poised to dominate U.S. credit card purchases, and rumors of a new streaming music service from hardware maker Bose. Go forth, click, and read!

Apple Pay Dominates U.S. Credit Card Purchase Volume

The New York Times today reported that Apple’s fledgling mobile payment service has added “dozens” of new banks and retail stores in recent weeks, with 10 new Apple Pay banks including TD Bank North America and Commerce Bank coming into the fold next Tuesday, just in time for last-minute holiday shopping.

With the recently added banks, Apple Pay is now poised to support “about 90 percent of the credit card purchase volume in the United States” — an impressive metric, but one that probably won’t mean much to iPhone 6 users without supported credit and debit cards, or those who shop at stores where the service is not accepted.

Apple is clearly looking at the long game, however, and with good reason: Recent Forrester Research estimates that the volume of U.S. mobile payments could reach 2 billion by 2019, and thus far Apple Pay has succeeded where competing services such as Google Wallet and SoftCard (formerly ISIS Mobile Wallet) have floundered.

iPhone 6 Tops Google’s Trending Search List for 2014

Ouch, that’s gotta hurt: Google released a list of top search trends for the year, and in the Consumer Electronics category, it was Apple who came out top tog for 2014, thanks to the iPhone 6 landing at number one. To be fair, the remainder of the top five is made up entirely of devices running Google’s Android operating system, with the Samsung Galaxy S5 in second place, followed by Nexus 6, Moto G, and Samsung Galaxy Note 4.

Apple also turned up two more times in the top 10, with the as-yet unreleased Apple Watch falling at number eight, while the iPad Air rounded out the list as the tenth most searched-for consumer electronics device.

Bose Reportedly Gearing Up for Streaming Music Service

Apple may soon have good reason to yank Bose products from store shelves: VentureBeat reported Monday the iconic audio hardware maker is said to be moving “quickly” to launch a “next generation streaming music platform” to rival the likes of Spotify, Rdio, and Apple-owned Beats Music. The report actually goes so far as to imply that the recent removal of Bose hardware from Apple’s online and retail stores could indeed have something to do with the planned streaming service.

Although Bose did not respond to the rumor, the company is said to be in the process of hiring a Senior User Experience Designer of Cloud Music Services, which specifically calls out for “an expert Experience Designer to lead design and prototyping of our next generation streaming music platform and ecosystem of products” in a job listing — not to mention shamelessly mentioning a desire to hire someone with experience at a streaming music rival, such as Beats Music, Pandora, or Google Play.

Follow this article’s author, J.R. Bookwalter on Twitter



Morning Report: Apple Happy Holidays, iPhone 6 Demand, New iPod Testimony

Apple "The Song" commercial

How’s the holiday shopping going so far? There are only 10 shopping days left before Christmas, but our Monday Morning Report will attempt to calm your frayed nerves with a new Apple holiday-themed commercial, details on iPhone 6 demand, and an update on the iPod antitrust case for good measure. Read all about it in just one click ahead!

Apple Tugs at Seasonal Heartstrings with Latest Commercial

Cupertino is back with another Happy Holidays commercial, this time in the form of a 90-second spot entitled “The Song,” which popped up Sunday on Apple.com. Similar in style to last year’s “Misunderstood” commercial, this one features a girl who finds an old record featuring a message from her grandmother to her grandfather, who weren’t able to be together for the holidays back in 1952, along with the grandmother singing “Love Is Here To Stay.”

The girl then fires up her MacBook, studying the song and creating her own version along with accompanying vocals alongside her grandmother’s voice. The end results are put on an iPad mini as a surprise holiday gift for the grandmother, who is naturally brought to tears as she looks through old photographs from the same era as she listens to the modernized duet with her granddaughter.

“From one gift come many. This holiday season, give the gifts of creativity, music, art, thoughtfulness, and generosity. A gift from Apple has the power to inspire in countless ways,” Apple’s web page for “The Song” reads. The full video is embedded below.


Apple Still Catching Up to iPhone 6 Demand at Year-End

AppleInsider reported Monday on “overwhelming” demand for the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus still has Apple scrambling to catch up as 2014 winds to a close. Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster anticipates Cupertino “will approach 80 percent” availability by the end of this quarter, a full 20 percent short of expectations.

Inventory levels of the latest iPhone 6 models are also more scarce than last year’s iPhone 5s and iPhone 5c, which Munster attributes to the latest models having larger displays. Although stock availability has improved six percent since mid-October, a survey of 80 Apple Stores found that only 58 percent of current models were actually in stock on November 14, despite ship times improving from seven to 10 business days (for iPhone 6) and three to four weeks (for iPhone 6 Plus) to only three to five business days currently.

Former iTunes Engineer Details Efforts to Block Non-iTunes Music

The Wall Street Journal reported Friday that attorneys for a federal antitrust case against Apple found an “unwilling witness” in former iTunes engineer Rod Schultz, who testified Friday that had worked on a project “intended to block 100 percent of non-iTunes clients,” which included making sure that third-party players were unable to use music purchased from Apple.

Schultz made clear that he “did not want to be talking about” the work he did on iTunes back in 2006-2007, an experience he would later detail in a 2012 academic paper that was not admitted into evidence. Schultz did make clear that his work was done at the behest of music labels looking to protect their intellectual property, with the unexpected consequence of giving Apple’s iPod “market dominance” for portable players.

Follow this article’s author, J.R. Bookwalter on Twitter



United Airlines to Give 23,000 Flight Attendants iPhone 6 Plus Units for Onboard Tasks

Today United Airlines announced its intentions to distribute iPhone 6 Plus units to its more than 23,000 flight attendants sometime in the second quarter of next year. With the help of Apple’s latest handsets, flight attendants will be able to access company e-mails and perform most onboard functions and thereby replace many separate items once needed to do the same job.

“We are thrilled to make this investment in our flight attendants,” said Sam Risoli, United’s senior vice president of inflight services, in a press release. “iPhone 6 Plus will enable them to deliver an even higher level of flyer-friendly service and will offer our flight attendants simple, one-touch access to valuable work information, enabling them to better serve our customers.”

In specific terms, that means attendants will be able to handle food and drink purchases with the device, and they’ll also be able to access their e-mail, the United.com website, United Airlines’ own intranet, and manuals for policies and procedures.

United has been a heavy supporter of Apple in the past, most notably with its 2011 decision to replace pilots’ bulky flight bags with navigational charts and miscellaneous manuals with Apple’s iPad. The company considers the program a success, and it plans to replace the existing units with iPad Air 2 devices in the near future. Earlier this year, the airline updated its official app to support free media streaming on iPads and iPhones.

In the coming months, the iPhone 6 Plus units going to attendants will also support a digital version of the printed safety procedures guide, as well as apps dedicated to reporting and following up on cabin issues and repairs. United Airlines also plans to add more customer-oriented features to the devices.

Follow this article’s writer, Leif Johnson, on Twitter.


iOS’s Activation Lock Cuts iPhone Thefts by up to 38%

Smartphone thefts as a whole are on the rise, and according to a massive new report from the FCC, they now account for 10 percent of all robberies in the United States. But there’s a silver lining to the announcement. Ever since Apple implemented its Activation Lock for iOS 7, thefts of the company’s coveted handset have dropped sharply.

Activation Lock’s effectiveness is especially apparent in Apple’s home turf of San Francisco, as Gizmodo discovered in the 136-page report, where iPhone thefts are down by a full 38 percent. Not bad, considering that smartphone thefts accounted for a whopping 59 percent of robberies there last year.

Notably, San Francisco is the home of District Attorney George Gascon, who’s partnered with New York Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman over the past couple of years to draw attention to the problem. The outlook isn’t quite as good in Schneiderman’s turf of New York, though, where iPhone thefts are only down by 19 percent. The lock is also effective overseas, as thefts in London are now reportedly down by 24 percent.

All total, 3.1 million Americans had their smartphones stolen in 2013, and that includes all makes and models. That’s quite a jump up from 2012, in which 1.6 million thefts were reported.

Follow this article’s writer, Leif Johnson, on Twitter.


iPhone 6 Plus Won 41% of Phablet Market After One Month of Sales

The last couple of months have proven that the critics were right after all: Apple simply needed to make an iPhone with a bigger screen to storm the smartphone market. New research from Kantar demonstrates just how true this is. By the end of the quarter ending in October of this year, the Cupertino company had already nabbed a whopping 41 percent of the so-called “phablet” category.

Consider that date. The device had only been around for about a month by the time the quarter ended, which points to just how quickly Apple managed to catch up with its competitors in the category. “Phablets” (a portmanteau of “phone” and “tablet”) consist of smartphones with screens measuring 5.5 inches of more, and they currently account for 10 percent of all smartphone sales in the US.

Surprisingly, Kantar’s data suggests that only 9 percent of the new iPhone 6 Plus owners are former Android users. Despite that percentage, chief competitor Samsung clearly struggled to keep up during the same quarter, as the company’s Galaxy S5 accounted for only 22 percent of sales while the older S4 only achieved around 12 percent.

But for Apple adherents, bigger most definitely seems to be better. A full 50 percent of iPhone 6 Plus buyers claimed size was their main consideration when buying the device. And 60 percent of iPhone 6 buyers reported the same. Indeed, the iPhone 6 is no slouch itself, as it accounted for 33 percent of all new iOS device sales for the quarter.

Follow this article’s writer, Leif Johnson, on Twitter.


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